The world's top five oil companies—BP, Chevron, Conoco Phillips, Exxon Mobil, and Royal Dutch Shell—made a record $137 billion in 2011 beating out the previous record in 2008, reports Climate Progress. Still even as the companies made record profits they produced 4 percent less oil than the prior year.
Four of the five companies spent 28 percent of their profits, $38 billion, on repurchasing their own stock, a practice that enriches the largest shareholders. Conoco Philips spent nearly 90 percent of its profits buying back its own stock.
The article further notes that the companies spent $65.7 million on lobbying efforts in the U.S., where the total oil industry currently receives around $4.3 billion in annual tax breaks.
Investment on new fuels?
A number of the world's oil companies have touted themselves as devoted to investing in cleaner fuels beyond petroleum. However, a recent analysis by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) found that the oil industry spent over 50 times more on producing more oil than on renewable energies. From 2006 through 2010 the oil industry spent over $2 trillion on producing more oil and $3.9 billion in alternative fuels, most of which went to corn and sugarcane ethanol. Notably, during the same time period the industry spent $190 billion on Canada's controversial tar sands.